Strangers in Paradise: Foreign Directors in Hollywood–August, Bille

Born on November 9, 1948, Bille August is a Danish director who established an international reputation in the 1980s.

His best-known film, Pelle the Conqueror (1988), won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Fest, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and the Golden Globe Award.

August is one of seven directors to receive the Palme d’Or twice, winning the prestigious award again in 1992 for The Best Intentions, based on Ingmar Bergman’s autobiographical script.

Unfortunately, he made his Hollywood debut with the wrong material, The House of the Spirits (1993), based on a novel by Chilean author Isabel Allende.

His next movies, Jerusalem (1996), based on a novel by the Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, and Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997), based on the novel Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Danish author Peter Hoeg, were also not particularly successful.

In 2011, August opened his studio in Hangzhou, China and took a position as Tianpeng Media’s Art Director, aiming to produce Chinese films. Tianpeng Media, a new media company established in 2010, has produced two films, The Women Knight of Mirror and The Years of Qi Xiao Fu. August is the first foreign director to be hired by the Chinese film company.

His 2013 film Night Train to Lisbon premiered out of competition at the 63rd Berlin Film Fest.

He in  the San Sebastian Film Fest with his intimate drama, “Silent Heart,” about a family that gathers for one last weekend with the family’s ailing matriarch, who plans to take her own life when the weekend is over.  The film toplines Paprika Steen (“The Celebration”), Pilou Asbaek (“A Highjacking”) and Danica Curcic, chosen as a 2014 European Film Promotion Shooting Star.

He was married to the Swedish actress Pernilla August from 1991 to 1997; his son Anders August is a screenwriter.